Posted by Lesley_Vos
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.
I write every day for my blog as well as other publications. I'm a big fan of guest posting, and every day I do everything I can to reinforce better writing.
The problem: Content creation is time-consuming.
- Content marketers deal with multiple tasks: social media content (93%), newsletters (81%), articles for websites (79%), blogs (81%), in-person events (81%), and more.
- Lack of time is one of top 5 challenges for 51% of content marketers, while 50% face the challenge of producing truly engaging content.
- 76% of marketers will create more content in 2016 versus 2015.
As a result, we have to find and apply different tactics to become more productive and efficient, as well as optimize our work to achieve better results.
Yes, creating content is hard work. Every time I read works of Neil Patel, Rand Fishkin, or Jon Morrow, I wonder, "How do they write so many articles every week, together with dozens of other tasks to complete?"
Do they "work 80-hour weeks?" Do they have an "army of assistants?"
It seems Neil Patel somehow heard my silent moanings when he wrote How to Write 5 or More Articles a Week and Not Burn Out, explaining the best tactics available for content marketers anytime and anywhere.
His article made me think of using alternative habits for writing more content in less time.
Famous writers didn't hesitate to use their weird habits for more efficient work. So, maybe it makes sense to follow their lead and find benefits in our love for coffee and music for better content writing?
So, I’ve taken my daily habits and decided to learn how to develop them for writing better content in less time.
#1 — Read the news
I can't help but read the news online. Turns out, this daily habit holds benefits for content writers:
- It improves writing skills, encouraging better cognitive skills and brain functioning. Plus, it enriches vocabulary.
- It provides ideas for new content.
- It lets them learn from professionals and follow their methods.
To make this work, avoid reading everyone and everything. Make a list of channels and resources that inspire you, as well as educate you.
Learning from experience, I can say Moz, Copyblogger, QuickSprout, and Smart Blogger are the best helpers in my niche. Rand Fishkin and Neil Patel teach me all the aspects of and latest trends in content and Internet marketing, while Brian Clark and Jon Morrow demonstrate the art of writing and encourage me to polish up my writing skills.
#2 — Free writing
If your daily habit is getting up early, your free writing is ripe for development.
It's a writing technique described by Julia Cameron and Mark Levy as a way to free the subconsciousness by telling all your worries to a piece of paper. All you need to do is start every day with writing three pages of text.
The topic doesn't matter. Just sit and write.
When developed, the habit of free writing can be a big help, including providing topics for new content and allowing you to create drafts quickly.
To develop this habit and use it for content creation, you should do nothing but write three pages of text every morning. Don't try too hard. Simply allow your thoughts to flow, write quickly, and set some time limits.
I dared to try it after I had read Julia Cameron’s The Artist's Way. While I'm a night owl, and it's an act of bravery for me to wake up early, I was faithful in writing three pages of text every morning and even discovered the site 750 Words. Working and spending 8–10 hours at a computer regardless the day of a week, I supposed it would be easier for me to free write online.
The most helpful thing about this website was its analytics and charts about every piece I wrote:
It let me analyze my writing and see what I needed to change for faster and more accurate work: I decreased the number of distractions and the level of wateriness in my writing (the tool showed which words I used the most).
My final attempt to fall in love with free writing was a master class by one local artist. Armed with a pen, a notebook, and cappuccino, I was in a good mind to give free writing a chance...
She gave us three tasks:
- "You have 5 minutes. Write about the latest problem that worried you and how you solved it." It helped me realize what a slow writer I was. Five minutes wasn't enough time for me to describe the problem, much less speak of the solution.
- "You have 10 minutes and three topics. Choose one and write about it." Mine was to take a phrase and begin a story with it. It taught me to start my writing with a hook, as it saved time and made me write faster.
- "You have 15 minutes. Make a to-do list for 2016." The trick was to write 100 items and avoid mentioning the same deed twice. It taught me to concentrate on my train of thought to avoid wateriness and save time for editing my writing afterward.
Now I use free writing when I need to come up with writing ideas. It saves time for brainstorming, and every free writing session gives me 2–3 ideas for future articles. Plus, I write faster now. (Yes, time frames matter.)
The moral of this story: free writing is a daily habit worth developing. Don't give up. Just write.
#3 — Drinking coffee
A daily habit of drinking coffee has its scientifically proven benefits, too:
- Coffee stimulates productivity.
- Coffee helps to stay more alert.
- Coffee increases creativity and mood.
I'm a coffee addict, so I can say with full confidence that it helps with my content marketing endeavors. The trick is to know when and how much coffee to drink for better writing.
I drink two cups per day.
Although the perfect time is between 10 a.m. and noon, and between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., I take my first americano with milk on early mornings. It stimulates my workflow and gets me into the swing of writing.
My second cup comes between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. It works like a charging system to revive spirits and, therefore, support a sufficient level of productivity in the afternoon. After my second cup of coffee, I have the energy to research and write outlines for my content.
#4 — Plan everything in advance
Does your organized nature make your friends smile? Mine still don't understand why I want to be ahead of the game and plan everything two or three months before deadlines.
This habit is my savior:
- It leads to better and more organized research.
- It sets time limits, stimulating you to write faster.
- It lets you create content plans and schedule like a boss.
With that in mind, I’ve chosen Trello to make this habit of planning flourish. My favorite thing about this tool is its keyboard shortcuts that allow me to manage tasks with one click. Plus, I use its Google Drive integration and desktop notifications to share and edit content quickly, as well as remember deadlines for planning my time properly.
#5 — Listening to music
This one is my favorite.
Working in an open-plan office with 14 people, half of whom regularly practice idle chitchat, I've found the perfect escape from frustration and, therefore, procrastination: music.
Music helps me concentrate on work, lowers my frustration, helps me write letter-perfect text, and speeds up my writing.
Listening to music in the office has also helped my writing accuracy.
Following the advice from Neil Patel on "youifying" content (I love that word), I use music to cheer up, gain inspiration, awaken creativity, and put me back on a productive track while writing my articles.
Listening to music also helps me save writing time:
- It signals to others that they shouldn't interrupt you. (Headphones work perfect for me!)
- It stimulates thinking.
- It makes writing more enjoyable. (Thank you, Karl Frierson!)
- It raises efficiency. (Jazz is my #1 choice here.)
Numerous studies confirm music's positive influence on productivity and efficiency at work. University of Birmingham, England shares that music makes repetitive work more enjoyable. And according to researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, music boosts moods and helps us focus.
(HubSpot shared six science-based playlists to choose from for listening at work.)
But when it comes to tasks requiring more brainpower, sounds of nature, songs without lyrics, or classical music seem to have the best impact on our productivity.
Are there any daily habits you use for writing content and organizing your time for better productivity? How do they work for you?
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